The people of Helensburgh, a thriving community located halfway between Sydney and Wollongong, are very proud of the district’s mining history. They also have a strong interest in maintaining and rejuvenating the natural environment.
It was these two key values UmbaCo Landscape Architects drew upon when preparing a concept plan and integrated public artwork scheme for the adventure playground, named Gymea Glade, and the parkland that are key components of Landcom’s Helensburgh residential development.
Simpson Landscapes was contracted to give form to the landscape architect’s plans and it was a major undertaking that involved an extensive program of works including construction of a custom-made playground and a network of pathways, extensive native plantings, wetland rehabilitation and the installation of artworks designed by public artist Jane Cavanough.
As the site for the playground had a slight slope, it was rearranged into two levels and a variety of different play and recreation zones were created to make it more interesting. The lower part of the playground is separated with large sandstone boulders and contains an adventure track that culminates at a ‘river’. This representational river then leads into native plantings and, eventually, the wetland waters.
To cope with the additional overland stormwater flow created by the construction of new dwellings at the Landcom site, the wetland surroundings had to be redesigned. Simpson Landscapes created a wetland fringe of rain gardens, in effect a series of shallow-terraced vegetative basins. These basins maximise stormwater absorption and the plants filter out pollutants.
Providing a picture-perfect view of the rehabilitated wetland, Simpson Landscapes constructed a timber viewing platform as well as a series of timber boardwalk paths that connect the various areas of the site with the bushland.
Site-specific artworks are a key element of the project, reflecting either the local mining history or referencing the wetland surrounds. There are ‘miners’ (distance bollards) that appear every 100m along the footpath enveloping the wetland, bright red gymea lilies at the playground entry, mosaic duck panels dotted throughout, and more.
Now the residents have a unique playground and a healthy wetland environment that makes Helensburgh the perfect place to raise a family.